Cedar Valley Humane Society contract relieves Marion Police Department of stray animal duties

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 5:51 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Stray animals found in Marion should no longer be dropped off at the police department. The city has signed a new contract with the Cedar Valley Humane Society.

Previously, Marion officers would balance their police work with caring for stray animals until Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control could pick them up.

”Cedar Rapids would come once a day to pick them up,” explained Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller.

Officers were responsible for feeding them, changing cat litter and taking dogs out in the interim.

“Ever since I got here one of the biggest things the officers have wanted to do is get out of the, what I call the dog catcher business,” Kitsmiller said.

The new contract goes into effect on Friday.

Strays found in Marion should be taken straight to the humane society during normal business hours.

”Probably 20% of the animals that we take in every year are strays,” said Lonnie Viner, Executive Director at the Cedar Valley Humane Society.

CVHS already handles strays for all of unincorporated Linn County, Benton County, and portions of Johnson County.

“Police really shouldn’t be in the animal care business,” Viner said.

“We’re not equipped to handle that. We’ve had officers bit, I think we’ve had 3 officers bit since I’ve been here trying to grab a hold of stray dogs and things like that and it’s just not something we should be doing,” said Chief Kitsmiller.

People in Marion can call CVHS to pick up a stray as long as it’s contained. If the animal is found after hours, they should call the non-emergency police number and they will dispatch CVHS to help.

“The strays need to be picked up by their owners within 3 business days,” Viner explained.

Pet owners will be charged an $80 pick-up fee, plus $25 for boarding each day after the first day. The $52,000 contract comes at an increased cost to the city from the $40,000 they paid Cedar Rapids.

Chief Kitsmiller said it’s important to him that CVHS will provide care for injured or sick animals that are found, and that his officers will be freed up from caring for the strays.

“It frees our officers up you know an hour for every dog, 100 hours, that starts adding up for us,” he said.

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